Monthly Archives: June 2014

New Website

Hi friends!

The same content, plus more like it is over at www.lifeasaloewen.com.

Come join me at ‘Life As A Loewen’!

See you there!

Through Unspeakable Joy,

Laura

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Making a Difference, Everyday.

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Most of us like to do things that make a difference, am I right?

We volunteer our time, give money to our favorite charities, bake for our neighbors, etc.

As a follower of Christ and an active member of my church, I serve in the youth ministry alongside my husband who is our youth pastor. I love being with the teens, helping them sort through drama, theology and the inevitable spats with parents.

I knew there was a piece missing to my service, my “activism” if you will, though.

Ever since the hubs and I met on a HIV/AIDS prevention trip to South Africa, my life was forever changed. Seeing the faces of poverty, disease and heartache up-close-and-personal is just something I will never be able to “shut off”. Nor would I want to.

Issues of social justice have been near-and-dear to my heart since that trip in 2005 and my passion for awareness and to help educate others on these issues has only grown since then. Orphan care, human trafficking, issues of poverty/hunger/lack of education and clean water have consistently moved and stirred my heart.

Fast-forward to 2013. My sweet friend Erin started posting on Facebook about how she was so excited to be an Ambassador for Noonday Collection, where she was selling beautiful, hand-crafted accessories on behalf of artisans world-wide, with the purpose of helping lift them out of poverty.

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And I saw the jewels.

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And I read more about the mission of Noonday.

And I was all: “Did someone seriously read. my. mind?! Like, for real, here. Someone actually combined the worlds of trendy accessories with social justice? No. Freaking, Way.”

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Noonday Collection is a company that provides a sustainable income for over 2,000 artisans in over 10 countries. Their goal is to empower the artisans through dignified work that will have a long-lasting impact on the artisans and their communities.

Through trunk shows, I get to set up a marketplace for our artisans. I display the gorgeous pieces, tell some amazing Noonday stories and women gather for food, laughter and playing dress up! I get to style women in the latest accessories, and meet some world-changing women that believe in using their purchasing power for good.

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Even Charlotte likes to get in on the action!

Even Charlotte likes to get in on the action!

My husband, Jason, will tell you I’m constantly saying “I’m SO glad I’m an Ambassador…for so many reasons!”

Noonday, is also helping us bring our son home from South Africa! We’re that crazy family with 3 biological children under the age of 5 who still has more love to give. Through my earnings with Noonday, we are putting it toward our adoption expenses and getting one step closer to fulfilling our dream.

I love that with Noonday, I can now rest assured that the artisans are receiving 2-4 times more than what they would in their local marketplace. I like to say it’s “more than fair trade”.

It’s beautiful. It’s life-changing.

For everyone.

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You can shop Noonday Collection for yourself or gifts for loved ones anytime at: www.lauraloewen.noondaycollection.com.

Maybe you’ve got a social-justice itch and/or love for on-trend jewelry like I do. Consider becoming an Ambassador and joining an amazing group of women with a heart like yours! 

We all like to make a difference. I hope you’ll join me in sharing these artisans stories, and changing their lives {and the lives in your community} forever by purchasing Noonday, hosting a trunk show or becoming an Ambassador.

Through Unspeakable Joy,

Laura

7-Year {Anniversary} Reflections

7 years

Jason and I tied the knot at the tender age of 22. Freshly graduated from college, Jason from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and me from Hope College in Holland, MI. We thought we had it nearly all figured out. We were madly in love with each other, wanted to serve God together and thought we had an excellent 5, 10, and 20 year plan for our lives.

Even though we were in the thick of our pride, our sometimes enabling-each-other-because-we-were-always-SO-right mentalities, I am very glad we got married at the young age we did.

Freshly Mr. and Mrs.

Freshly Mr. and Mrs.

In fact, looking back, I wish we would’ve gotten married even sooner. I was convinced I would need an entire year to plan a wedding. Things couldn’t be farther from the truth for this Type-A, super planner. I mean, really. I knew the colors I wanted. The flowers. The flow of everything. Put into the mix that I was recovering from knee surgery in the middle of our engagement, and I had a TON of time on my hands to plan our wedding.

What two crazy-in-love dating 21-year-olds look like.

What two crazy-in-love dating 21-year-olds look like.

Hindsight is 20/20 they say. In this case, yes. Totally believe that to be true. I had graduated from college a semester early in December of 2006, so technically, we would have been poorer than all get-out, but we could have made it work. We wed on June 9, 2007.

We knew we were crazy about each other and man alive, keeping the beast tame that was our desire for each other during that year-long engagement is something I would not wish on anyone.

As stated previously, Jason and I, although trying to pursue the Lord, made a lot of mistakes.  We made a commitment to ourselves and the Lord that we would save the gift of sex for our wedding night, and I’m SO glad we did!

Growing up, it was never an “option” for me- both for my personal convictions and what my parents instilled in me – to give myself away in that manner to anyone but my husband.

On our honeymoon, 2007.

On our honeymoon, 2007.

So lesson #1? Christian men and women: if you know you want to get married, just do it. Exception? If one or both of you have deep-rooted issues that need to be addressed in individual counseling, then those things should be worked on before saying “I do”.

You’ll never “be ready” to be married. What the heck is “being ready” to be a husband or a wife anyway?

You’ll never have a “enough money”. Trust.

(And for real – an extra $100 or $10,000 isn’t gonna make you happier, or ensure a better marriage. Now, there IS something to be said for a crazy-hard work ethic and a commitment to provide and support each other. Different animals entirely.)

Lesson #2 over these past 7 years? Don’t hold your plans so tightly.

At my MSW graduation, 2008.

At my MSW graduation, 2008.

Case-in-point: this was my 10 year plan when we got married.

  1. Finish graduate school (Master’s in Clinical Social Work)
  2. Get a position as a high-paid therapist
  3. Continue impacting lives while being over-the-moon happy in love
  4. Buy a nearly-new house + car
  5. Have first child at age of 30
  6. Continue to do therapy full-time, having kid(s) in daycare and livin’ the American Dream

Man alive, do I shutter at my then-unspoken goal of living the American Dream.

God had SO. MUCH. more for me – thank you Jesus!

And how did my life actually go? Glad you asked.

A lil’ somethin’ like this:

Life as I hadn't planned. :)

Life as I hadn’t planned. 🙂

  1. Finished graduate school (Master’s in Clinical Social Work)
  2. Got a low-paying, super-stressful job in my field, but not as glamorous as I would have hoped
  3. Felt the “baby itch” every time we sashayed by the baby section in Target
  4. Gave birth to Landon at 24
  5. Began working part-time, then felt God’s call to be a stay-at-home mom
  6. Gave birth to Charlotte at 26
  7. Now at home, felt God’s nudge to both adopt AND have another child biologically
  8. Gave birth to Aiden at 28, to shortly start adoption process for our fourth

God’s plans are always best. How I wish I would have just said “Lord, my life is yours, do with it what you will” at the tender age of 22.

Instead, I spent my time pursuing what I thought was best, what my life plan was.

Lesson #3? Keep your marriage your priority relationship.

Most families put their kids above all else. And don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my kiddos. I mean have you seen them?! Stinkin’ cute. Just thinking of them makes me smile.

But, one day, they’ll all grow up. Leave the nest. And Jason and I will be left.

My love. The bestest.

My love. The bestest.

Hopefully, to remain the best-of-friends, laughing, loving and still making out in the kitchen.(sorry for that visual but guys, we’re crazy about each other. Sue me.)

In our mid-forties when the kiddos are gone working, in school, being married, or where ever God leads them, I want Jason and I to enjoy each other.

And I honestly believe that because of date nights, taking the time for each other daily to check-in, being super affectionate with each other, that we will truly enjoy each other when my role is mama-no-more, but empty-nester-wife.

So thankful for the lessons God’s been teaching me since we’ve been married.

So thankful that Jason loves me, despite me being my full-out intense, goofy self.

May our marriage be one that points others to the beauty of the Cross, and the goodness of God all our days.

Through our imperfections and struggles, may our union remind people of the sacrifice that Christ made and the Love that is so real and calling us all to Himself.

Through Unspeakable Joy,

Laura

 

Utter-Failure Status.

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Ever have those days when you feel like an utter failure?

Join the club.

Pull up a spoon and let’s dig into this Ben + Jerry’s.

I felt like SUCH a failure this morning.

Three loads of laundry were bunched up in the laundry room. And although clean, they weren’t folded and their 5-day old creases seemed to be mocking me.

I felt like I earned a couple “good mom/wife” points as I completed another five loads.

But their folded status? Eh…it’s honestly all piled up on my bed like a huge mountain I don’t wanna climb.

(And no, Miley, I don’t feel like climbing today.)

Then the fun got kicked off when Charlotte bit Aiden. Let’s just say mama wasn’t havin’ it.

Although from recent car trip, similar emotions ensued.

Although from recent car trip, similar emotions ensued.

So, consequences were dealt out (You wanna whine and cry about what YOU did to your brother? Fine. Go sit on your bed. I’m not getting a headache due to your ridiculousness. Oh? What’s that Charlotte? Wanna continue the theatrics? Great. Then no ‘bear ribbons’. Important side note: ‘bear ribbons’ is our term-of-endearment for C’s blankie that she almost cannot go to bed without).

Per usual, mama wasn’t playin’.

At this point, Landon (4) had talked me into playing a game of trouble. Aiden (1) was an arms length away in his high-chair flailing his arms and squawking because I couldn’t deliver the vanilla yogurt to his little mouth fast enough. Repeatedly.

 

Meanwhile, Miss Charlotte (3) had gained her self-control and was busy coloring a Beauty + The Beast page while emphatically stating things every 2 seconds like: “Mama wook!” “Mama, I color Belle yew-oh!” “Mama! I make it wook supa pretty!”

I snapped.

I'm sure it looked something like this. Awesome.

I’m sure it looked something like this. Awesome.

It got ugly real quick. I started yelling. I would calm down, and then repeat like a complete psychopath.

Pretty, huh?

I told the kids I was wrong for yelling (amongst throwing a near 29-year-old-temper-tantrum) and asked for their forgiveness. Like the sweeties they are, they promptly forgave and hugs were given all around.

However, I couldn’t take back my words.

The nasty tone of my voice, the way my words spewed from gritted teeth. There would be no wiping this from their memories.

I tucked them all in for their afternoon naps, snuggles given, a calm, more relaxed, but remorseful mom who kissed her kiddies and told them she loved them.

“What a horrible mom” I thought as I left their rooms.

I just wanted to run away in seclusion. Feeling completed depressed and fully convinced I was a failure of a mom, I just sulked into the couch hoping my Instagram feed would distract me for a second.

Instagram failed me, so a threw my phone down on the couch, partially annoyed with it, mainly frustrated with myself.

Really Laura? Really?

I felt a little nudge. Maybe you should try reading the Word.

Whatever, God. I’m not in the mood. 

Nice. Good pastor’s wife, eh?

I got myself out stuff to make a breakfast burrito and switched on the Bible on audio.

As Romans chapters 1-3 played, my heart softened.

I felt God’s peace and presence wash over me. I was reminded of God’s goodness and how His love never fails.

Even for a sometimes-screw-up like me.

So. Much. Grace.

I am just so longing to be able to consistently extend that grace, especially to my kids.

I mean, as much fun as a crazy, yelling, psycho mom can be…I think I’d like to leave her at the curb and replace her with loving, fun mom.

We all feel like failures sometimes. And sometimes, we even play the part real well.

I hope I keep listening to that Voice of reason and love, wooing me to come to the Fountain of Life, for Water that will never leave me thirsty again (John 4:13-14).

I know that’s where I must go to be filled, and to be able to pour out anything of beauty.

Through Unspeakable Joy,

Laura